Debbie Carter, a schoolteacher for 37 years, calls Floyd, Virginia, her home.
Debbie was teaching her regular high-school culinary arts class in 2014 when she received a phone call that changed the course of her life – her mammogram showed irregularities, and she was urged to come to the clinic as soon as possible. Subsequent testing revealed that Debbie had breast cancer.
At the advice of her cousin, Debbie sought care one and a half hours away from home with oncologist Dr. Susan Melin at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. Dr. Melin guided Debbie and her husband, John, through the treatment plan. Debbie would require two surgeries, eight weeks of chemo, and six weeks of radiation. Knowing they were from out of town, the oncology team told the Carters about the SECU Family House.
When they arrived, the Carters described the Family House as “clean, peaceful, and it had everything you could need.” They appreciated the friendly staff and the on-site amenities, namely the well-stocked kitchen, shuttle service, and library. Debbie and John felt blessed to have their adult daughters come to stay in their room for a few days at a time. But when they weren’t surrounded by family, they shared meals and conversations with other guests staying at the Family House. John said, “I met so many people who understood what we were going through.” Whether they were sitting across the table at bingo or in line for dinner, the Carters found solace in the comfort of their new friends.
This sense of community and mutual support led the Carters to make their first donation to the Family House. John described their reason for giving as, “We are helping each other, helping our family. I suppose that’s why it is called the Family House.” Debbie says “The last thing people need to think about when going through a medical crisis is the financial burden of where they are going to stay. That’s why I give. It’s a worthy cause.”
The Carters have been House Heroes–donors who give on a monthly or quarterly schedule–for six years. Their generosity has ensured that patients and caregivers continue to have a safe, affordable, and comforting place to stay while receiving medical care in Winston-Salem.
These days, Debbie is doing well. Her cancer is in remission, and she continues to come to Winston-Salem for regular checkups. People of faith, Debbie and John say, “We are blessed. And God bless you for considering a donation to the SECU Family House.”